California readers may have heard media coverage of a recent asylum case centered on a Russian man’s claim of harassment based on his sexual orientation. The matter has shed light not only on the treatment of gays in other nations, but also of the manner in which asylum cases are handled right here in our own country. A federal court of appeals has found that the Board of Immigration Appeals within the U.S. Department of Justice was wrong in at least one of its conclusions in this case.
The man came to the United States in 2003 to study at an English language school. The decision to move came after two separate attacks that he experienced on Russian soil. The man claims that both of those attacks were based on the fact that he is homosexual, and was actively involved in a relationship with another man.
In one attack, the man was allegedly beaten and kicked while walking with his partner. On another occasion, he suffered a concussion when knocked unconscious while out at a restaurant with his partner. The man sought police assistance after both attacks, but says that law enforcement officers failed to assist him or investigate the incidents.
When he filed for asylum, immigration officials ruled that he had failed to demonstrate that Russian government officials were unable or unwilling to control the individuals who attacked him. Specifically, no evidence was presented to refute the man’s claims presented within his request for asylum. The case has been handed back down to the Board for review. Before sending the man back to his native land, the board must show that conditions have changed that would ensure his safety, or that he could be relocated to an area that posed no additional threat. California readers will likely continue to follow the case as it returns to the Board for review.
Source: San Jose Mercury News, Court orders review in gay Russian’s asylum case, Sudhin Thanawala, Nov. 28, 2013